TV On My Terms: Relatively Perfect Casting

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A few days ago, I caught the Friends rerun where Kathleen Turner played Chandler's gay burlesque headlining father and found myself laughing as much now as I did the first time around. 

I started thinking of how, over the years, some of my favorite television characters have had the roles of their relatives also cast so perfectly, such as Katherine Helmond playing Debra Barone's mom on Everybody Loves Raymond and Lena Olin as Irina Derevko on Alias. Some of my recent favorites have included Robert Wagner as Papa DiNozzo on NCIS (a role he reprised last night, in fact!) and Amy Sedaris as Virginia's rich-witch cousin on Raising Hope

This all got me to thinking what other characters from some of my favorite shows could use a relative and whom would I cast? Here are just a few ideas I came up with:

Dan Fogler on Suits
Let's face it, Fogler was the funniest thing about ABC's Man Up! and even that didn't showcase his talents nearly well enough. What if he showed up as Louis Litt's younger, less-put-together brother Frank who comes to Louis for help when the nudist camp he runs is sued by a large corporation, which disputes the deed to the land on which it resides?

In the process, we could find out Louis has a nudist past of his own (which would explain the locker-room comfort he has with his body). Cue a nude-off between Louis and Frank much to the horror of Rachel, who has been unfortunately assigned to work the case with Louis. Cheesy? Perhaps, but creating a similarly offbeat situation to bring Fogler in as a comedic foil for Hoffman would give the latter an opportunity to be funny and let it all hang out. So to speak.


Stockard Channing on The Good Wife
Channing is a phenomenal actress and I can think of no one better to portray Alicia and Owen's mother. (I can't recall whether their mom has ever been mentioned, but just go with me.) She has exactly the right balance of both gravitas and whimsy that would perfectly reflect the qualities displayed by both Julianna Margulies and Dallas Roberts. So how would she fit into the story?

First she'd have to be the exact opposite of Jackie, but in a way that ensures she's nearly as irritating to Alicia. Why else would we have heard next to nothing about her in three years?! Perhaps she's a recovering alcoholic who Alicia resents for a neglectful childhood, which in turn caused Alicia to strive to be the perfect wife and mother all these years? Now she arrives wanting to make amends because she's suffering from a rare form of liver cancer, and Alicia is faced with the decision to give part of her liver to her mother for treatment. Okay, that's a downer... and maybe a little cliched. But something along those lines would give both award-winning actresses material worthy of their talents.

Wanda Sykes on Happy Endings
It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that whenever it comes time for Brad's dad to make an appearance on Happy Endings, he will likely be played by Damon Wayans Jr.'s real life padre, Damon Wayans. But what about casting the brilliantly sarcastic Wanda Sykes as Brad's grifter aunt Freida who swings into town with a "recession-proof" business opportunity: a frozen yogurt/yoga studio called Fro-Yoga! Brad would of course be acutely aware of his aunt's misgivings, but despite his warnings, Alex and Penny would end up getting suckered in by her and somehow left holding the bag. Sykes' caustic brand of humor would make a perfect fit amongst this cast of crazies, and the writers have already proven what clever ideas they can come up with for guest stars (see: Megan Mullally) should my "Fro-Yoga" idea leave them a little cold.

Miles Fisher on New Girl
As a relative up and comer in the industry, you may not yet have heard of Miles Fisher (unless perhaps you are a Saved By The Bell fan and recently saw this), but he is a man of many talents. Comedy, drama, music, impersonations - you want it? He's got it covered. Suppose he arrived on New Girl as Schmidt's overachieving, far more suave, kid brother, Dominic, of whom Schmidt has always been jealous? He waltzes in on a break from Harvard and charms the hearts of both Jess and Cece, burrowing himself further under Schmidt's skin, and even manages to threaten his spot in the three-way bromance with Nick and Winston, who are both equally as enamored with Dom. Only it seems Dom picked up a secret little habit while away at Harvard - cross-dressing! - which takes an unwitting Winston by surprise - only after they've shared an awkward kiss.

Brandon Routh on Grimm
Okay, so I don't really watch Grimm, and therefore have no justification for having Routh play Nick's long lost cousin (who harbors a dark secret, natch), other than the fact that he is a ringer for David Giuntoli. Seriously, these two have to be related somehow, right?

What do you think? Do you have any ideas for characters who could use a visit from family? If so, who would you cast in the role? Let us know in the comments below!

Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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